Stonehenge is located 8 miles(13km) north of the town of Salisbury, England, on Salisbury Plain.  It is probably the most recognized Neolithic Monument in the world.

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Salisbury Plain
View of Salisbury Plain

Stonehenge the Monument

Me at Stonehenge Lithology of Stonehenge- Click to see close up
There is nothing quite like Stonehenge in this world. Its earliest phase dates back to 3100 BC.  No one is exactly sure of its purpose. The builders of Stonehenge are long dead (and we're not exactly sure who they were to begin with.) It could have been used for tribal gatherings, festivals, watching the sun and moon, etc. There are many theories.

Stonehenge comparison
Perhaps today, Stonehenge isn't as magnificent as it once was.  Many of the stones have been knocked down and robbed. But enough is still intact to attract visitors from all over the world.  The sarsen stones have been standing in their circle since about 2500 BC. For a 4500 year-old monument, I would say it looks pretty good.

What's a henge?

For an explanation click here.

The Stones

Stonehenge has two main types of stones.


The bluestones are a mystery themselves.  Many believe that they came all the way from the Preseli Hills in Wales, which is over 160 miles (250km) away.  These stones are over 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall and weigh around 4 tons.  There are 43 currently on site. Is it plausible that ancient man would have gone to such great lengths for dolerite?  One theory suggests that a glacier brought the stones to England, but it is a question that is still up to much debate.

Sarsen Stone

Sarsen stonesTallest Sarsen
The sarsen stones are local stones taken from much nearer Marlborough Downs, which is 25 miles (40km) north.  The sarsens are much larger, ranging from 12-22 ft tall.

Building Techniques & Features

Standard wood-working techniques were used to construct Stonehenge's linteled stone circle and trilithons. Mortise and tenon joints were used to connect the standing stones with their lintels.  Tongue and groove joints were used to connect the lintel pieces to each other.


Originally, Stonehenge had five standing Trilithons, a structure consisting of two standing stones supporting a third lintel stone.  These were arranged in a horse shoe shape around the altar.  Only three of the trilithons are still standing today.


Lintels are what truly make Stonehenge unique.  There are many stone circles in the British Isles, but none with lintels.  The technique used to raise them is currently unknown as well.

Something that makes Stonehenge fascinating is the number of extremes it rises to.  What stone monument is older?  What stone monument is larger?  more complex? more unique? I enjoyed being able to see it for myself. Who knows? With a current excavation under way, perhaps some of its secrets will soon come to light.